I stand here before you, on this day of our lord, 26th July 2021 as the Commander in Chief of Botswana Armed Forces and Current Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, a formal institution of SADC which was launched in June of 1996 with a clear mandate to support the achievement and maintenance of security and the rule of law in the region.
2. Today this mandate is being put to test by a geopolitical environment and security landscape not dissimilar to that of the formative years of our country during the years of the minority apartheid regimes, whose aim was to destabilize our country and those of the newly independent Southern African Countries. Complex as the security situation in the SADC region maybe, as in the past, Botswana’s foreign policy goals have been and remain very clear. Botswana’s security cannot be attained without that of her neighbors.
3. When Botswana took the leadership of the SADC Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security, I laid out our country’s role
in leading our region’s efforts to underpin stability in political, defence and security, by applying our universal diplomatic and security capital to our regions vexing problems.
4. These security challenges are those found in the Eastern part of the DRC, where through Botswana’s leadership, the SADC region has finalised with the United Nations and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, modalities to ensure that no security gaps will emerge with the envisaged draw down of the United Nations mission in the DRC (MONOSCU).
5. Furthermore, through the leadership of Rre Lemogang Kwape we have sprung to action in facilitating the people of Eswatini to work towards finding a peaceful and long lasting solution to their political dispensation. Today we witness yet another milestone in our set out objectives of propelling the peace agenda to our region in following through on the SADC Mandate aimed at facilitating the peaceful conditions in the northern part of the Republic of Mozambique.
6. It is for this reason that I am here this morning to address members of the Botswana Defence Force who as part of the SADC Standby Force will be deployed to provide regional
support to the Republic of Mozambique to combat the looming threat of terrorism and acts of violent extremism in the Cabo Delgado Region in the northern part of that country, as an element of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM).
7. Ladies and Gentlemen, as stated earlier, our commitment to regional and international peace as a nation remains steadfast and undiminished as evidenced by the BDF’s previous involvement in peace keeping operations in (Operation Restore Hope) in Somalia, (UNOMOZ I & II) in Mozambique, as part of the UN Observer Mission in Rwanda and (BOLEAS) in Lesotho.
8. Throughout these deployments the BDF received very positive appraisal for their professional conduct in the execution of the military job and also as true ambassadors of Botswana’s historical and enduring National Values of being a rule-based society and in particular that of BOTHO as a Force multiplier. That remains the historical legacy of your predecessors and the shoes you must now fill.
9. I therefore implore all to emulate these predecessors who were involved in previous peace missions by exhibiting the
highest level of professionalism during this deployment as Botswana’s flag bearers in the Republic of Mozambique. The value system of Batswana, particularly Botho should guide you even in adversity of conflict.
10. As your Commander in Chief, I am alive to the fact that you will be facing a deceptive enemy which is likely to use asymmetric warfare, unconventional and underhand warfare tactics against yourselves and the population you will be protecting. As professionals, you stand for much more than they do and must avoid emulating them and sinking to their level.
11. I therefore demand nothing less from you to observe the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC) as prescribed internationally in your profession of arms, as well as the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) which establishes the framework under which SAMIM personnel will operate in the Republic of Mozambique.
12. Your main focus as the BDF in this deployment will be prescribed by your respective commanders in the mission. I have full confidence that you will execute your task equitably
and will do nothing that will taint the good image of the defence force.
13. Your deployment comes at a time when the country is facing economic challenges which have been exacerbated to a great extent by the Covid-19 Pandemic which is inflicting enormous health, economic, and social damage to all nations. It is for this reason that the mission sustainment will be undertaken on a cost sharing basis between the SADC Secretariat and Personnel Contributing Countries.
14. Notwithstanding the foregoing, my Government through the Reset Initiative is working tirelessly to reinvigorate the local economy and will be sourcing some of the services for the mission locally.
15. The use of Air Botswana today is just an illustration of this commitment, to ensure the survival of hard hit sectors of our economy and their value chains. The airline industry and its sister sector of tourism are such economic sectors that need to be revived. I am thus heartened by these initiatives by your ministry to focus on these even as we deploy externally.
16. As you prepare to deploy, I need not emphasise the issue surrounding your safety. The Commander has reliably informed me that bo sekwata refers to amongst other things force protection that consists of preventative measures taken to mitigate hostile actions against yourselves, your resources, facilities and critical information. It is on this note that I implore members of our media to emulate bo sekwata by noting that some information particularly that of a military operation of this nature is not publicized as it may compromise Operational Security (OPSEC) and put lives at risk. I want to assure you that you will receive what is due to you in terms of remunerations.
17. In closing my remarks, allow me to wish well all those assigned to deploy under SAMIM and remind you of the ongoing global pandemic. You must continue to stay focused on the public health protocols to combat this global threat to human kind.
Thank you, tsamayang ka PULA.
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